Vonciel Hill sparks largest rally ever in Dallas’ black LGBT community

#RevLOVE - 13

In what one longtime activist called the largest rally in the history of the local black LGBT community, about 50 people gathered in a South Dallas parking lot on Saturday morning to voice their objections to City Councilwoman Vonciel Hill’s anti-gay comments last week concerning an HIV prevention billboard.

The billboard, part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign, features a black man with his arms around another black man and says, “UPDATE YOUR STATUS.”

Hill, who is African-American and virulently anti-gay, told a TV news station that she objected to the billboard in her district because she believes it sends the message that homosexuality is “acceptable.”

Saturday’s rally, which had as its theme a hashtag, #RevLOVE, was held under temporary awnings erected in the parking lot of Abounding Prosperity, an HIV/AIDS agency in the heart of South Dallas at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and SM Wright Freeway. Harold Steward, who organized the rally, explained to those who braved 90-degree heat that the hashtag #RevLOVE is based on a line from pioneering gay black activist Joseph Beam’s book, In The Life.

“Black men loving black men is the revolutionary act,” Beam wrote.

“We have been here before,” Steward told the crowd. “If we have to we will plaster our faces and lives and our loves on every billboard in America. We will love in this revolutionary way until our haters catch up with our history.”

—  John Wright

Fahari Arts kicks off 4th season during Pride

Harold Steward

Fahari Arts Institute Artistic Director Harold Steward announced the 2012-13 season that begins on Sept. 15 with Pouring Tea: Black Gay Men of the South Tell Their Tales, written and performed by E. Patrick Johnson.

The dramatic reading is based on oral histories collected in Johnson’s book, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South — An Oral History. The histories are from black gay men who were born, raised and continue to live in the South and range in age from 19 to 93. The stories range from religion and sex to transgenderism, love and coming out.

The show takes place at the South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 Fitzhugh Ave. on Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. The program is free.

That will be followed on Oct. 5 with Queerly Speaking PRIDE Edition in conjunction with Dallas Southern Pride. Poets Ronamber “Flo” Deloney and Marvin K. White are scheduled to appear. That takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dallas Downtown, 1015 Elm St.

—  David Taffet

Does Frank Ocean’s coming out mean more for hip-hop or for the LGBT community?

July has already been a momentous month for the LGBT community. Anderson Cooper didn’t so much come out as officially confirm that he identified as gay early in the week. Then, for some July 4 fireworks, Odd Future member Frank Ocean candidly talked about his past relationship with a man in a telling Tumblr post. A lengthy letter that was heartfelt and poetic (while never using the “g” or the “b” words) left no doubt that Ocean has come out of the closet as a member of the community — and as a bona fide hip-hop star.

There has been speculation on Ocean’s sexuality recently on blog buzz reviews about his upcoming album Channel Orange. MTV reported that he had openly used “him” in many of his songs which had been picked up on by those reviews. Ocean’s clearly in a more comfortable space, but could it be lost on the LGBT community?

—  Rich Lopez

Stream Fahari’s “The Bull-Jean Stories” with Q-Roc Ragsdale live from Tampa

Back in March, Fahari Arts Institute snagged two Readers Voice Awards for its production of The Bull-Jean Stories. Harold Steward won for directing and Q-Roc Ragsdale took away the best dramatic actress prize for her role portraying a black lesbian in the rural South of the 1920s. The one-woman multi-media show by Sharon Bridgforth has brought Fahari enough attention that it will be performed in Tampa, Fla., at the National Performance Network’s annual meeting on Saturday.

Missed it when it was here? No worries — NPN is streaming all of theirlive  performances on the Internet. NPN has collaborated with #NewPlay TV to present all the performances in real time. Fahari announced in an email today that the piece, co-commissioned by DiverseWorks with the South Dallas Cultural Center and the NPN, will stream Dec. 10 at 7:30 EST, so 6:30 p.m. our time. Just click here to watch then.

—  Rich Lopez

Fahari’s Harold Steward on KERA’s Art&Seek

Harold Steward

In this piece from Thursday, KERA’s Jerome Weeks talked to Harold Steward, artistic director of Fahari Arts Institute, as the organization begins its third season. Opening with two art shows (and a special edition of Queerly Speaking for Dallas Black Pride), Steward discusses Fahari’s confidence going into a new season, and some of that is due to the piece’s mention of the three Dallas Voice Reader’s Choice Awards the organization won. Collectively, the group won for Best Local Arts Organization, Best Theater Director for Steward for Fahari-produced The Bull-Jean Stories, and Q-Roc Ragsdale as Best Actress for the same show.

Steward: “Of course, it’s all based off of popular vote. But you know, we looked at it, and said, ‘Here we are, a volunteer staff, an even more volunteer budget because we don’t know what it is, and how do we come away with three awards when no other organization does?’ Well, that speaks to the people and their beliefs in this . . . What we’re doing is building community.”

We highlighted Steward and Fahari back in January.

—  Rich Lopez

2 new local pubs target LGBTs of color

Online publishing seems to be the way to go for upstart magazines. Two local LGBT pubs recently announced their debut and have their sights set on specific audiences.

Reina is the creation of Ashlei Spivey, who apparently also goes by Vonnie Spiv.  The launch party was held July 10 at Chocolate Secrets. Here’s the mission of Reina as stated in their press kit:

The magazine envisions bridging resources in the lesbian community of color through discourse surrounding various subjects pertinent to this community. Reina believes in expanding the voice of the community. Even though the magazine is targeted to lesbians of color, there is something is this magazine for everyone. We embrace our community and our allies.

View the current issue here. According to their Facebook page, the mag’s website goes interactive on Thursday.

While Spivey’s magazine will be geared mostly to lesbians of color, BlaqOut Dallas is gearing up to be a resource for the entire black queer demographic of the area.  Fahari’s Harold Steward is behind the magazine but said, “the community is my team.” The official launch for the magazine is expected to be this fall, but he encourages everyone to visit their Facebook page until the website is built. This is the current description of the mag:

BlaqOut Dallas is an online publication that profiles the people, organizations, arts, politics and culture of the Black Queer North Texas community.

Roneka Patterson did an impressive photo shoot for the mag that can be seen on their page.

When asked if there was room for two magazines devoted to LGBTs of color in Dallas, Steward replied, “There is room for many more.”

—  Rich Lopez

Fahari Arts to mark 30 years of AIDS with exhibit, issues call for submissions

In their commemoration of 30 years of HIV/AIDS, Fahari Arts Institute will host their 2011 Fall group exhibition Our 30. Artistic director Harold Steward along with Diedrick Brackens will curate the event and are now inviting artists of all mediums to participate in the exhibit set to open Sept. 10 at 1111 Studio Gallery. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 6.

The release says, “This exhibition looks at 30 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in black southern communities.”

Before you apply, read Fahari’s rules on submissions. Then contact them here about your potential entry.

The group is also counting down their season with two final events. The last Queerly Speaking is set for July 22 featuring Brandon Jackson. That is followed by Fahari Fierce: A Celebration of Black Queer Movement on July 30. Most Fahari events take place at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

—  Rich Lopez

Local gay and black organizations announce April as Hate Crimes Awareness Month

The Fahari Arts Institute announced that it has teamed up with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to “mark the month of April as hate crimes awareness month, bringing attention to individuals who are or have been harassed, attacked, or even killed because of their actual or perceived ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender expression.” The arts organization will program events throughout the month related to victims of hate crimes. As part of their programming, they will screen The Sakia Gunn Film Project. It follows the trial of the murder of a New Jersey 15 year-old lesbian.

The following is from the press release:

“We, as black people, as humans, cannot hold to the idea that all life is precious, while discounting the lives of gay people,” says Harold Steward, artistic director of Fahari.  “Verbal and physical violence as a means of disapproval or disagreement in general has wrecked [the black] community internally for far too long, and we must recognize that the violence against sexual minorities in the black community because they are queer is just as real and just as wrong as violence against us because we are black.”

Several organizations and individuals are joining with Fahari in this month-long commemoration including Southwest Regional Marketing Director for Lambda Legal, Dennis Coleman, the South Dallas Cultural Center, Black Cinematheque Dallas, the DFW Senators (an social organization for black lesbians), “HeART and Soul” (a Houston performing arts collective led by Kevin Anderson that will be in performance on Saturday, April 17th in Dallas), and University of North Texas’ gay student organization, GLAD.

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—  Rich Lopez